Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Need a Book

I finally finished my Marie Antoinette book (Abundance). It was good.

Now I need a new book, but I need a REALLY, REALLY, REALLY good book. It has been super hard for me to get into books lately, so I need your very best recommendations.

I started to make a list of what I've read and liked but it's too long. I have probably read everything Tudor/King Henry related out there, so let's skip that unless you know of something new and interesting. Also, not a big fan of chick lit, and I have an almost-aversion to the Twilight series. I really like historical fiction, but also like Stephen King/Dean Koontz sort of stuff (when they don't wuss out on the endings and go all weird). My favorite authors are John Steinbeck, Margaret George, and Wally Lamb. I liked a lot of the older Oprah's book club stuff, but haven't followed that much recently.

It doesn't have to be amazing literature or anything, just something engaging and/or compelling. I know one of you can steer me in the right direction.


GoodnessGraces said...

Sookie Stackhouse Series - or is that too Twilight like?

Funny in My Mind said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kenny and Chrissy said...

Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott. It's a memoir. You will totally get it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ashley,

My favorite series ever is by Diana Gabaldon. The first book is called Outlander. There are six books in the series, and the seventh is coming out in September.

It is hard to categorize these books. Mostly historical fiction, set in Scotland and America. Here are two quotes about the series:

"Strong willed and sensual, Claire is an engaging modern heroine plopped down in a simpler, more primitive time.... Great fun ...marvelous and fantastic adventures, romance,
sex ...perfect escape reading!"—San Francisco Chronicle

"Marvelously entertaining ... A page-turner of the highest order and a good read from start to finish."
— Chattanooga Times

Just make sure that you read this series in order. Please, please try this series. You won't be disappointed, I promise. I don't mean to sound likean advertisement, but I just do truly love these books.

Unknown said...

I have heard great things about Sookie Stackhouse, from someone with very similar taste in books to mine, so I'll look into that again. It doesn't sound like my sort of thing, but he says they're really enjoyable.

I've also had a good friend tell me about the Outlander series before and swears I'll love them.

Keep the suggestions coming, I'll look it all up in Amazon tonight :-)

Maybe starting a series is a good idea, it would keep me busy.

Anonymous said...

If you like Goldie Hahn, check out her biography "A Lotus Grows in the Mud". It's a very good read.

Unknown said...

Try Twilight. (I know you don't want to) Seriously. I didn't want to either, and I thought the movie looked fucking dumb. I had a Border's gift certificate, and thought "what the hell". Yeah, LOVED Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn.

It's worth it!

Anonymous said...

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
Lambs of God about some nuns that live on a deserted island


Maggie said...

I just finished "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. I highly recommend it--Jackson, Mississippi in the 60s. I also loved the trilogy by Penny Vincenzi, the first is called "No Angel".

Anonymous said...

Read the clan of the cave bear series. It's awesome. Jean M. Auel.

jenn said...

The Outlander books are fantastic. I second that recommendation.

Also - "The Angle of Repose" by Wallace Stegner. If you like Steinbeck, you'll like his writing.

Nikky said...

I can't stand Twilight either, for the record. And generally, if it's vampire it's okay in my book (especially if it involves the adorable Taylor Lautner).

Anyway, for lighter reading, have you tried Stephanie Plum? They're quick, 1 or 2 hour reads, but good for a laugh. Also, The Princess Bride, despite the movie being cheesy (in its wonderful way) is an AWESOME book. Ditto The Neverending Story (the movie was only about the first 3rd of the book).

Otherwise, lets see... If you don't mind young adult the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfield is decent. Jenna Jameson's How to Make Love Like a Porn Star was surprisingly interesting (just keep it away from the boys ^__^). I don't read a lot of really heavy books... If you don't mind something religious-themed (it's about angels and the fall of Lucifer from their POV, starting when he was a good guy and building), The Chronicles of the Host is really good, I forget who it's by.

Laura R. said...

Most anything by Margaret Atwood or Jeanette Winterson. For fun, Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. Oh, also, Gary Shteyngart!

Anonymous said...

Pillars of the Earth is great, by Ken Follet. Or pretty much anything by Barbara Kingsolver (Poisonwood Bible especially, or Prodigal Summer). The Red Tent, by Anita Diamont. Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray is great if you like a little ecology in your reading (not boring, I promise-same goes for Prodigal Summer).

Lonnie said...

The Time Travelers Wife was the last book I read that I absolutely could not put down. Read it before the movie comes out in August, I am hoping they don't ruin it!

Anonymous said...

I third the Outlander series - they are fabulous! Also loved Clan of the Cave Bear - that's one I re-read every couple of years.

I also loved Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See, Geek Love - Katherine Dunn, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith. (the last one is technically YA fiction, but it's another one I have to re-read every few years.). Hope you find one you love!

~ Zoe

Britt said...

A little goofy but literary fun is the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde.

Unknown said...

Pillars of the Earth was one of the best books ever. Also loved Time Traveler's Wife (that author's got to be a genius to have written that masterpiece). I also loved the Red Tent, and lots of stuff by Barbara Kingsolver. Snowflower and the Secret Fan was BEAUTIFUL and Water for Elephants was amazing. I did read some Clan of the Cave Bear and it was good but I didn't get all the way through it. I liked Handmaid's Tale by Atwood, although it was definitely weird, not normally my thing.

Zoe, I am SO GLAD you suggested Geek Love. Did you suggest it on BBC to me once? I've been trying to remember that title for the longest time because it interested me then! I love circus-related/freak stuff.

You guys have good taste, I have lots to research now.

Anonymous said...

The Secret History by Donna Tart
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Can't Remember Her Last Name
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Beach Music by Pat Conroy

Anonymous said...

Jodi Picoult is my FAVORITE author...everything is good!! My personal favorite, though, was PLAIN TRUTH. I have read all of her books and her current one is very good so far, too. It's called Handle With Care. Happy Reading! Tell us what you picked to read!!

Lauren said...

I second the Jodi Picoult. I have been reading her books lately. My
Sister's Keeper is the first book of hers that I read a friend gave to me. It is coming out as a movie in June. I always like reading the book before seeing the movie. Usually the books are better but it is always fun to compare.


I enjoy Steve Berry's work. Suspenseful and thrilling, they're hard to put down.

Anonymous said...

Lamb by Christopher Moore

The Serpent Garden
The Oracle Glass
A Vision of Light (all by Judith Merkle Riley) These are historical fiction, women centric, and really good.

amanda said...

Geek Love is a good one. Also check out A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.

Claire said...

Ok- I am a History teacher and a reader by nature. I have a HUGE historical fiction collection and you can find my through Listmania Lists. Actually, I will just post the link here and you can read.

Absoultely LOVED Green Tiger, White Dragon. I think you would love it also.


Anonymous said...

I may have recommended Geek Love on BBC, it's one I've recommended a lot! Not a lot of people have heard of it but it's terrific. It's pretty freaky but if you're a Stephen King/Dean Koontz fan you will love it!!!

~ Zoe

Melisser said...

I just read "The Third Angel" by Alice Hoffman and it was really good. It's a trio of stories that go back between present day-1970s-1950s

Oh, also, definitely check out Kelly Link -- she's got your sense of humor.

And maybe Laurie Moore?

carolinesc7 said...

Read anything by:

David Sedaris - very entertaining

Carl Hiaasen - usually funny action/satire/thriller - generally takes place in south FL with various colorful characters

Candy Girl by Diablo Cody (who wrote Juno) - autobiographical book about her year as a stripper, guaranteed to make even YOU blush!

my3grcs said...

Try Bag of Bones by Stephen King. It isn't as horrorish as his other stuff, but was great none the less.

Unknown said...

I just finished "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova and it was absolutely fabulous. It's the story of a psychology professor at Harvard's diagnosis with early-onset Alzheimer's.

CayceCol said...

Hi! Long time lurker finally showing my face :)

I know you have been going through some shit lately, and you need to laugh but you also desperately need to cry...

If I've pegged you correctly, may I reccommend you try Dave Eggers 'A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius' or Mark Haddon's 'The Curious Icident of the Dog in the Night-Time'.

Both books are hillarious yet sad with these familiar, purpose-filled characters who make you appreciate life for being silly, sad, fun, and finite.

Unknown said...

LMAO.... i just posted this morning that I needed a new read on my facebook & here you are with the same idea! You got better suggestions than I.

Water for Elephants - an absolute must read

I can't wait to look into some of these awesome suggestions. Your readers rock!

b said...

The Bone People by Keri Hulme

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

The Houdini Girl by Martyn Bedford

Katie said...

Molokai by Alan Brennert. Historical fiction about a leper colony in Hawaii in the early-mid 1900s. I couldn't put it down and I don't even like historical fiction.

I will also second Still Alice. Amazing!

marie said...

Someone already said it, but I just finished Lamb by Christopher Moore, and it made me laugh out loud constantly. All his work is extremely entertaining. I also liked:
The Kite Runner
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Unknown said...

Loved Kite Runner, that was a powerful book.

CayceCol, I truly enjoyed "Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" it was a strange sort of book but the characters were so real and good. It is one of those that I don't really remember well, but do remember being sucked into their lives and sad when it was over/they were "gone".

You guys have me so excited about these books. Still Alice, Candy Girl and the leper colony one all sound good too. I am composing an Amazon list of the suggestions that I will share when done.

Unknown said...

Oh, I also love David Sedaris and like Carl Hiassen. If you like Carl, you will probably love Tim Dorsey...he is so funny, and the characters are so well written, and it's mostly South Florida mysteries with really interwoven story lines--I love him. Start with Triggerfish Twist.

Amy said...

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Genius!

Angle of Repose was one I would suggest and I see someone has!

Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.

The Outlander Series. I read them straight though, it was exhausting, and I can't wait for the new one in September.

The Secret Life of Bees.

I'm also a fan of Kingsolver, and others have suggested her.

For something intelligent and extremely funny - try Bill Bryson. In A Sunburned Country, A Walk in the Woods, and A Short History of Nearly Everything are favorites.

MCW said...

Cane River, East of Eden and Birth of Venus are a few of my recent favorites. All historical fiction...and could not put any of them down.
Have you read something by James Mitchner? He wrote a few really great LONG novels that follow families over hundreds of years in America. I just read Chesapeake and it follows people living on the Eastern shore in Maryland from the 1600's to the 1970's. It is so interesting how he weaves everyone together...

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of anything by Greg Iles and Jodi Picoult.

Sally Sue Magoo said...

How about Sarah Vowell? I really liked her newest one "The Wordy Shipmates" which I am currently finishing but LOVED, LOVED, LOVED "Assassination Vacation." She is a regular contributor to "This American Life" as I am sure you know, and her stuff is all about history.

Sally Sue Magoo said...

Though if you can find the time to do "Assassination Vacation" as an audio book more the better since it has some great contributors playing the different parts, John Stewart, Conan O'Brien, Steven King....

Jamiedidit said...

I bet I have read the whole Outlander series at least ten times. They suck you in - my office passed them around and were fighting over who would get the next installment first.

That said, my favorite book of all time is "The Time-Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger. I recommend it whenever I can. Try it, I promise you'll love it.

Anonymous said...

The Help.

Seriously, the best book I have read in 5 years. And I read A LOT. It's about white women and their black domestic servants in the early 60's just as the Civil Rights movement is heating up. And it's set in Jackson, Mississippi. And it's amazingly good fiction.

Read it. You'll thank me.

Anonymous said...

So since you like Wally Lamb I'm assuming you have already read She's come undone?

Drowning Ruth? Read that?

Kristin M. said...

I'll try ones that haven't been recommended, except The Outlander series--in order!--is one of the best ever!

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Jen Lancaster series--bitter is the new black, etc.

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

Ashley said...

Pillars of the Earth. Read it immediately. Best book ever, hands down.

Melissa said...

The Time Travelers Wife
The Red Tent (Anita Diamante)
My Sister's Keeper (Jodi PIcoult)
Plain Truth (Jodi PIcoult)
The Kite Runner
Tapestries by Kien Nguyen

Erica said...

This is my first comment, yay!
I really loved "Blackbird" and "Still Waters" by Jennifer Lauck... They are absolutely heartbreaking memoirs, but also incredibly moving.
I have read a lot of Elinor Lipman and Elizabeth Berg... Elizabeth Berg is my top favorite.
Wally Lamb released a new book around Christmas called "The Hour I First Believed" which was pretty long-winded in some parts, but definitely worth reading. He also brings back a character from a previous book which made me burst into tears from happiness. Crazy, I know.

The Girl said...

Hmm, Historical Fiction, eh? I highly recommend "The Illuminator" by Brenda Rickman Vantrease It takes place in the 14th century and is about a medieval illuminator who comes to live with a widow who is struggling to retain her independence at a time where the church just keeps on taking. It's fantastic!!! If you love it, you can also read the sequel "The Mercy Seller"


Desiree said...

I am seconding the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde, I am on book 4 right now. One of the great things about the first book "The Eyre Affair" is that he didn't plan it to be a series. So it is a complete stand alone story; if you don't end up loving it, you don't have to continue on to the next book to get an ending.

Also, the Princess Bride is an amazingly fun light read with so much more backstory to all the characters. A great summer book.

Anonymous said...

The Time Travelers Wife is excellent.

My favorite book of all time is Waiting for Snow in Havana by Carlos Eire. It's a memoir written by a Yale prof about his boyhood in pre-Castro Cuba. Unbelievable!!

Another good work of fiction I read last year was The Emporer's Children. Can be heartbreaking in parts.

leni said...

I'd have to say that my favorite book is "Sex, drugs and coco puffs" by Chuck Klosterman. Just read the first couple of pages before buying it. If you're not laughing out loud, then you can pass on it. But I seriously couldn't stop reading passages to the people around me. I laughed through the entire book!

Maddness of Me said...

I'm reading Russell Brand's Booky Wook... but I really really love me some Russell Brand. Unless you get him, you won't get his book.

Body by Twins said...

We seem to have similar taste in books. Sacajawea by Anna Lee Waldo is the main reason I am into historical fiction. It’s the only book I’ve read more than once. It’s not well known because it was published in the 80’s and it is not part of a series, just one big book.

danni said...

Hey Ashley - I just wanted to throw in another vote for the Outlander series... It really is awesome, and I think it's right for you.. it's an interesting version of historical fiction/time travel.

We love them so much we refer to them as "THE books"

I read them 10 years ago and never made it through the whole series (school started to interfere with my free time) - I asked for a copy for my birthday this year and I got the whole series! I am so excited to start them over. As soon as I am finished with the one I am reading now... I only have a little left!


KatBouska said...

Have you read a Child Called It? That one is short and really easy to read but gripping.

My favorite book in the whole world...and I'm an avid reader so that means a lot...is For Those I Loved by Martin Gray.

It's about the holocaust and is amazing and heart breaking and inspiring, but painful.


THE best book I've read in my life. And in the end you'll just want to hug the author. It's always my reccommendation when people are looking.

Unknown said...

Ashley, How many times have I told you about the Outlander books? (wink)

I just read Oprah's pick Edward Sawtelle. DO NOT READ IT! I am obsessed with finding my son's dog-soul-mate-helper. Ikidyounot, last night I was searching Petfinder.com for other states as I have seen every dog up for adoption in California sorted by breed, age and sex. Why the hell are we saving dogs from Korea when we can't afford to keep people here employed? Some of these rescue groups are shams I tell ya! So you don't need (further)unrealistic expectations of your canines. So stay away from this book unless you are prepared to be utterly and hopelessly worried there won't be a dog around when your son needs one!

Unknown said...

Body by Twins that book made me wonder if I had been Sakajawea in a previous life!

Anonymous said...

Get the Historian by Elizabeth Kostova - it's a little bit of a slow start, but is an awesome book. It's reeeally long, which is good, because it's one of those that you don't want to end. Here's a better summary than I could give:

Amazon.com Review
If your pulse flutters at the thought of castle ruins and descents into crypts by moonlight, you will savor every creepy page of Elizabeth Kostova's long but beautifully structured thriller The Historian. The story opens in Amsterdam in 1972, when a teenage girl discovers a medieval book and a cache of yellowed letters in her diplomat father's library. The pages of the book are empty except for a woodcut of a dragon. The letters are addressed to: "My dear and unfortunate successor." When the girl confronts her father, he reluctantly confesses an unsettling story: his involvement, twenty years earlier, in a search for his graduate school mentor, who disappeared from his office only moments after confiding to Paul his certainty that Dracula--Vlad the Impaler, an inventively cruel ruler of Wallachia in the mid-15th century--was still alive. The story turns out to concern our narrator directly because Paul's collaborator in the search was a fellow student named Helen Rossi (the unacknowledged daughter of his mentor) and our narrator's long-dead mother, about whom she knows almost nothing. And then her father, leaving just a note, disappears also.

Karen said...

OMG, somebody who loves all the Henry VIII stuff like I do!!! WooHoo! I hope you watch The Tudors on Showtime, my friend!

I very much enjoyed "Songs For The Missing" recently, about a family letting go after their teenage daughter goes missing. A fairly easy read, but a good one. Not as troubling as you might think, as they did not focus on the crime, but the surviving friends and family.

Christine said...

LURVE all of Jen Lancaster's books. LOL material. Love, love, love.

Sarah said...

Sarah's Key by Tatiana DeRosnay. It is about a little known event that happens with the Jewish families and the Holocaust in France. A book to get lost in and gut wrenching. This is one of my favorite "steak and potato" books, one that fills you up and you won't soon forget.

Alexis said...

I would love to know what your favorite Tudor books are.